In real estate, we often come across the terms “custom home” and “custom build”. Usually, they’re used to entice the reader to act (since the word “custom” implies something better than the norm). Of course, that’s not always the case. There are pros and cons associated with this option, and the most important thing when you’re deciding what’s right for you is understanding what you’re getting involved in.

If you are thinking about purchasing a custom home, here’s what you need to know.

What is a Custom Home?

There are three types of custom homes: custom, semi-custom, and spec homes. There are many factors that will go into your decision of which type of new home will suit you best.

A custom home is completely customized. That means you make each and every decision about your future living space, from the location and lot to the number of closets, light fixtures, and outlets you’ll have. You choose the interior, the exterior, the floor plan, the number of bedrooms and overall square footage, the garage, driveway, and landscaping.

Everything is carefully chosen, and you’ll work alongside the builder and architect. It can be a lengthy and very time-consuming process. You’ll go through each step of the actual build. You’ll find the lot, create a timeline and budget, take part in the design process, secure permits, engage in site preparation, be involved at the building stage, etc.


If making a lot of decisions is difficult for you, you might want to build a semi-custom home instead.



You choose the lot and location, have complete control over the process, and all designs will be highly customizable.


It’s a time consuming (and potentially lengthy) process. Custom homes can be costly, and financing is more complicated.


Semi-Custom Homes

This is the in between option, where most of the decisions are made for you (or are grouped together so that they’re easier to make).

With a semi-custom home, your lot, size, and floor plan are usually already pre-chosen or designed. You can then add modifications to the plan, but sometimes the choices are limited. You should still be able to choose finishes and colours based on what the builder can provide.



Semi-custom homes are more cost effective, there are fewer decisions involved, and the process is quicker.


This option comes with limited options for finishes—and limited control during the building process.


Spec Homes (Speculative Builds)

If all of the above feels overwhelming (or perhaps your budget doesn’t allow for a custom home), you may want to opt for a spec home (also known as a speculative build). This is a completely turn-key option where the builder has already chosen the lot and built the home, usually with modern finishes and design in mind. From there, the builder sells the completed house.



Opting for a spec home saves a lot of time, is cost effective, and requires little to no decision-making.


With this option, you can’t decide the lot or location (and design options are limited).


These are three very different and exciting purchase options if you’re looking for a new home. Toronto and the GTA have a wide selection of excellent custom builders to choose from. For more information on custom homes or design projects, reach out to me today!

Looking for more information on custom homes or design projects?

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